Chief backs expansion of exhibition centre

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 July, 2009, 12:00am

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has thrown his support behind plans for a third expansion of the Convention and Exhibition Centre, calling it 'my dream'.

It was the strongest indication yet that the proposal will go ahead.

Speaking at the launch of the 20th Hong Kong Book Fair yesterday, Mr Tsang said: 'I would like to assure you that continued investment in high-quality convention and exhibition infrastructure, soft as well as hard, forms a key part of our strategy.

'The government and the [Trade Development Council] are actively examining the case for a Phase 3 expansion of the HKCEC.

'It appears, according to my colleagues, that we will have to move existing government buildings and public facilities to make room for the extension. For this purpose, we need to consult the public on the way ahead and balance the interests involved, but I think so far the TDC has made a very strong case and we have to consider very carefully. The option remains open and Phase 3 remains my dream.'

The comments echo similar remarks he made in his policy address in October, when he stressed the need to increase the exhibition area of the Wan Chai venue to maintain Hong Kong's position as a convention and exhibition hub. He said the government and TDC were examining the feasibility of the expansion.

Exhibition space at the Wan Chai venue grew 40 per cent, to 66,000 square metres, after work on expanding the atrium was completed about three months ago. But the council, which manages the centre, has long argued that a minimum of 100,000 square metres is needed to compete with venues in Macau, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

A spokesman for the AsiaWorld-Expo centre at Chek Lap Kok said there was still ample exhibition space in Hong Kong but called for more efficient use of existing venues.